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Nobody wants to manage a 21st century broadband network like a 40-year old telephony system


The broadband industry finds itself in a disruptive and innovative time. It’s clear that networks are under far more stress than ever before, facing hugely fluctuating demands in traffic, in latency, in availability and in scalability. Where operators used to focus on stability and capacity, they must now also deliver agility and responsiveness. 

While COVID-19 might prove to be the final incentive to drive operators to implement greater network automation, the urgency and demand have been growing for several years. In the not too distant past, it was simple: one plain old telephony network, an EMS and an OSS to run the network and services. Now it is a very different for operators; they need to handle a much more complex and diversified multi-technology, multi-vendor environment. 

Nokia SDAN Blog Graphic

Software-defined access networks (SDAN) are essential for managing this difficulty. They remove complexity by using cloud-based technologies with simple, yet powerful, digital interfaces. This allows IT-style programming, fast feature delivery, quick adjustments, and automation in order to improve the response to the always evolving needs and demands of consumers. 

The move to SDN and cloud is the kind of access network transformation that only happens once every 20 years. The question operators are asking is: “How do we do it?” 

When we speak to operators, they are unanimous: it is an evolution, not a revolution. And rightly so: they have too much at stake in the installed base. They’re looking for a pragmatic way of SDN-enabling their networks with minimal disruption and cost. 

We have the solution for them. We strongly advocate a use case approach as Orange demonstrates with their Access Renewal and Evolution Strategy (ARES) program, applying SDAN where and when it makes sense. Tactical opportunities lie whenever expanding geographically, or when deploying a new technology like XGS-PON, or fixed wireless access. Introducing SDAN at the same time does not require a big up-front investment and allows operators to build their expertise incrementally. 

With the service intents and software adapters in place, working nicely with the OSS, operators can then be confident in expanding their use of SDAN. Once they have the flexibility to rely on a programmable cloud platform, hardware or OSS changes no longer drive a ripple of management and operational issues. Here are a few things in Nokia’s favor. Our FTTH portfolio is uniquely cloud-ready with greater choice, flexibility and control to deploy SDN. It’s like swapping a car engine without having to make a pit stop. Our software platform is capable of managing the hybrid traditional-cloud environment. This means that the network infrastructure operators invest in today, is ready to support both current and future operating models.  

The potential benefits of SDAN are enormous. Analysis done with leading operators shows that automating routine FCAPS tasks alone can save 25-40% of recurring OPEX in a national network. Or how about creating a SDAN network slice to provide a premium-priced, ultra-low latency service for dedicated cloud gamers? The options are endless. 

Our ambition is to bring cloud-based access to operators and be the partner of choice for system integration and advanced automation. And I believe we are uniquely positioned to do this because of the unmatched choice and flexibility in our portfolio, and our unrivalled experience in broadband transformation. In fact, we already have more than 250 cloud-ready customer deployments in place around the world. Are you ready to join them?

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks using #broadband #SDN

Sandy Motley

About Sandy Motley

Sandy leads the Fixed Networks division at Nokia. She holds four degrees from three renowned U.S. universities. The years she spent dealing with the wireless business makes her the perfect leader to guide our customers through the massive access journey. In her free time, Sandy likes to read, watch sports and spend time with her family.

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